Banking wins

Land Bank celebrates 2016

OBSERVER File Photo
533 Washington Ave., Dunkirk

OBSERVER File Photo 533 Washington Ave., Dunkirk

It was a year of wins for the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation, reported the board of directors at the recent CCLBC annual meeting.

Executive Director Gina Paradis, who led the discussion at the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator, highlighted several achievements, including millions of dollars in state grants to help fund the land bank’s mission.

“Between 2013 and 2016, the Chautauqua County Lank Bank Corporation secured two separate grants from the NYS Office of the Attorney General’s Community Revitalization Initiative Program totaling $2.86 million,” she announced. “This funding has been allocated primarily toward activities related to demolition, vacant lot disposition, acquisition of bank foreclosed properties, administration and marketing.”

For another project the organization’s leaders are excited about, they are working with a new company called Orbitist.com, a “young, geo-spacial data analytics and marketing firm located in the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator.” The project will compile and present data on county-wide housing, vacancy, blight and its impacts.

“Data will be tracked and used to inform the (CCLBC’s) strategic investments as well as its performance over time. Orbitist will map data and develop multi-media communications to highlight the resulting information for educational, marketing and advocacy applications,” Paradis shared.

In other 2016 news, the CCLBC successfully applied for additional grants; the Portage Inn in Westfield was demolished and cleared to make way for a park-like trailhead; the organization moved into its new home at the Incubator; Jim Caflisch was elected as chair of the board; multiple properties were rehabbed or cleared, then sold; and the independent website www.chautauqualandbank.org was launched. Also, Paradis was recently named successor to Mark Geise.

On behalf of the organization, Paradis thanked state and local leaders for their continued support of the CCLBC’s mission and private property owners whose donations have helped to clear or clean up blighted sites. She also expressed gratitude for the land bank’s many community partners who work in myriad ways to help stabilize the cities, towns and villages in which they live and work.

She especially wanted to thank the Chautauqua County Legislature; it’s Sales 4 Rehab program and “creative problem solving” have helped the CCLBC “address blight and stabilize neighborhoods across the county.”

“In the cities of Jamestown and Dunkirk … 62 properties have entered the Sales 4 Rehab program and an additional 69 have been or are currently scheduled for demolitions,” Paradis read.

The land bank has also been active in the suburban and rural areas of Chautauqua County.

“The land bank is shifting the paradigm on how the county deals with tax-foreclosed properties by leveraging resources to tackle the glut of vacant, abandoned and condemned properties,” she added.

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